Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Sex Offender Registry is a Human Rights Problem

Video Description:
Charlie Sullivan, Executive Director of International CURE (National), asks Congressman Danny Davis about the collateral consequences of the Sex Offender Registry.


Due Process of Law: The Three Meanings of Due Process

Due process

Video Description:
Burt Neuborne at Cooper Union. November 29, 2012 - The eight in a series of nine free lectures delivered by Burt Neuborne, renown civil rights attorney and constitutional law scholar in the Cooper Union's Great Hall. (Wikipedia)


NY - GOP Says Fundraiser Event Should Be Cancelled

Exploitation by politicians is nothing new
Original Article

09/19/2013

But One Activist Says Yarrow is Not A Pedophile

The Republican Congressional Campaign Committee is talking about a new website.

The website talks about how Mr. Yarrow, who was arrested and convicted of seducing a 14 year old girl in 1970, is singing at a fundraiser in Ithaca this weekend.

Martha Robertson (Facebook) will be there. “It is telling that while Congressman Tom Reed (Facebook) is co-sponsoring the bipartisan Missing Children’s Assistance Act, his opponent Martha Robertson is having a convicted child molester headline her kickoff fundraiser. If Robertson had any sense of morality, she would have cancelled her fundraiser the minute she found out that Mr. Yarrow had molested a 14-year old girl. Robertson’s actions here speak volumes – she will not hesitate to put money before morals,” said NRCC Spokesman Ian Prior.

Shana Rowan of USA Fair
Shana Rowan of USA Fair
But a group called USA Families Advocating an Intelligent Registry Inc., a national advocacy group, is condemning language being used to describe Mr. Yarrow. Shana Rowan, Executive Director of USA FAIR, said that the GOP’s use of the term “pedophile” is incorrect. “The clinical definition of a pedophile, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM, is an adult who is sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children, not young men who have had sexual contact with teenagers. This is the kind of politically-driven hysteria that leads to harmful knee-jerk legislation.” said Ms. Rowan.

Thanks to emotionally-charged sex offender policies supported by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, thousands of women in New York State are suffering collateral damage as the wife or mother of someone on the sex offender registry," Rowan continued. "Together, we have witnessed our registered family members accept responsibility for their actions and do everything they can to become productive, law-abiding citizens, despite the obstacles imposed by said laws. Mr. Yarrow has served his sentence and even received a presidential pardon. If we are unwilling to allow a man who has expressed remorse for a forty-three year old crime committed in his youth to move on with his life, what kind of incentive are we giving other former offenders to become contributing members of society?


Forensic Science Misconduct on the Rise

Forensic fraud book
Book
Original Article

06/16/2013

All across the United States, crime lab scandals have been making headlines. Not just in recent months, but for years. At the local level, this is generally perceived to be an isolated problem. The reality, however, is quite different.

As explained in the new text Forensic Fraud: Evaluating Law Enforcement and Forensic Science Cultures in the Context of Examiner Misconduct (Elsevier, 2013), crime lab scandals related to forensic fraud and error are on the rise - worsening in the last few years. The result has been dozens of crime lab closures, tens of thousands of criminal cases thrown out and overturned, and millions of dollars in successful lawsuits against government agencies.

The subject remains sore and often forbidden within the forensic science community. Consequently, the frequency and conditions of its occurrence have not been researched, and incidents are regularly hidden from public scrutiny to maintain the reputations of those agencies and crime laboratories that have suffered its stain. As discussed in this new text (available in June), this is at least in part because those who have direct knowledge of forensic fraud also have a vested interest in keeping it from becoming public knowledge.


Efficacy of sex offender treatment still up in the air

Sex offender group therapy
Original Article

Women commit sexual crimes as well, but we do understand that most are by men, but articles about sex crimes, in our opinion, should be gender neutral, and that is why we inserted the text in red below.

09/22/2013

"Did he complete treatment?"

That is a front-burner question for judges and jurors in sexually violent predator trials. Understandably, before they decide to release someone who has been convicted of sexually molesting a child, they want reassurance that he is sincerely remorseful and has acquired the tools to turn his (their) life around. In short, they want a certificate of rehabilitation attesting to his (their) low risk.

But does formal sex offender treatment really lower risk?

A systematic review found no scientifically rigorous studies that establish a link between treatment completion and a reduced risk of reoffending among men (offenders) who have sexually abused children.

This isn't altogether fresh news. We knew from earlier research reviews that:
  • Any effect of treatment was modest, at best
  • Treatment works best for the tiny minority of very high-risk offenders, while possibly aggravating risk for the broad majority of men (offenders) at lower risk of recidivism
  • Older offenders, due mainly to their very low risk, derive no tangible benefits from treatment

But considering both the prevalence and the harm of child sexual abuse, there is surprisingly little high-quality research on effective interventions. Partly, this is because of the lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key mentality of policy makers. And partly it is because of the ethical difficulties in implementing random-design procedures, a hallmark of the scientific method, because men (offenders) assigned to a control group would be denied treatment that could reduce their risk and in some cases shorten their prison terms.


MO - Sex offender registry: Find better way for offenders

When will "tough" be "tough" enough?
Original Article

09/22/2013

By Tom Kara

It’s rare to find a progressive trend in our Republican-dominated legislature, but their recent effort (House Bill 301, PDF) to downsize Missouri’s “sex offender registry” is laudable, even as Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto is perplexing.

Registering “sex offenders” (far too broadly defined) is based on the questionable idea that they are more likely to offend once released — even though a U.S. Department of Justice study (PDF) of criminal recidivism rates showed many convicted of sex-related offenses had lower rates of re-arrest compared to other criminals.

We don’t require armed robbers or other felons to register on a public list; rather they serve their sentences and (hopefully) re-integrate into society. And that is the main problem with registering “sex offenders.” Branding all of them for life can only make it more difficult to become normal members of society upon release.

Indeed, being publicly labeled a “sex offender” could conceivably spur some to live up to the heinous title hung forever around their necks.

While a certain percentage of criminals will re-offend, we need to take a hard look at the utility of the “sex offender registry” experiment.

Even though Nixon’s veto of this attempt to downsize the list was not overridden, the legislature, the voters and Nixon should continue to look for better ways of encouraging those who made big mistakes to start a new and better life after prison.

Perpetual, public shaming is not one of them.


Private prisons demand states maintain maximum capacity or pay fees

Prisons need prisoners
Original Article

Prison is a business and business is booming!

09/20/2013

By Travis Gettys

Falling crime rates are bad for business at privately run prisons, and a new report shows the companies that own them require them to be filled near capacity to maintain their profit margin.

A new report from the advocacy group In the Public Interest shows private prison companies mandate high inmate occupancy rates through their contracts with states – in some cases, up to 100 percent.

The report, “Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and ‘Low-Crime Taxes’ Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations,” finds three Arizona prisons must be filled to capacity under terms of its contract with Management and Training Corporation.

If those beds aren't filled, the state must compensate the company.

The report found that occupancy requirements were standard language in contracts drawn up by big private prison companies.

One of those, The Corrections Corporation of America, made an offer last year to the governors of 48 states to operate their prisons on 20-year contracts.

That offer included a demand that those prisons remain 90 percent full for the duration of the operating agreement.

The report found 41 of the 62 contracts reviewed contained occupancy requirements, with the highest occupancy rates found in Arizona, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Private prison companies have also backed measures such as “three-strike” laws to maintain high prison occupancy.

When the crime rate drops so low that the occupancy requirements can’t be met, taxpayers are left footing the bill for unused facilities.

In Colorado, for example, Democratic Gov. John Hinklooper agreed to close down five state-run prisons and instead send inmates to CCA’s three corrections facilities.

That cost taxpayers at least $2 million to maintain the unused facilities.

It’s more difficult to quantify the societal cost of filling prisons to satisfy private investors.